Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thanks and see you next time!

Hello all,

We hope you are well.

We apologise for our silence in the past two weeks. On the last day of the CUMECS cruise we were very busy with preparing for disembarkation, making data back ups and clearing the laboratories. And after disembarkation, some of the cruise participants headed back home whereas others attended workshops and conferences across Europe.

We are very happy with the CUMECS cruise and we think it was a great success. Our young team (with average age of 32 years) worked really well. We managed to obtain more data than we hoped for, and we discovered some really interesting features along the Malta-Sicily Escarpment.

The multibeam echosounder data allowed us to identify numerous submarine landslides that extend from the canyon head towards the continental shelf. The seismic data provided information on the nature and depth of these landslides as well as the presence of buried channels upslope of the canyon heads. We obtained 9 sediment cores that should allow us to determine the nature and age of the landslides, as well as the history of flow activity into the canyon head. The ROV survey, on the other hand, provided evidence of deep water coral communities, as well as human disturbance, in the canyon heads.

The CUMECS cruise may be over, but our work is not. The next phase of our project will involve processing and analysing the acoustic and sedimentological data acquired during the expedition. We will generate detailed 3D models of the seafloor and 2D images of the sub-seafloor to understand the evolution of the Malta-Sicily Escarpment in the past. We will also use these data to test predictive habitat mapping techniques. We plan to investigate the sediment cores in the laboratory to determine the nature, origin, age and frequency of landslides and flows within the canyons. And, finally, we will watch the ROV footage again to identify and map benthic habitats and biota in detail.

When all the analyses are completed, we will produce articles that will be reviewed by scientific experts in the field and published in international scientific journals. We also plan to present the results of our study at a number of international conferences.

And for the general public, we will produce a documentary that will be uploaded on YouTube and shown at secondary schools.

At this point, we would like to particularly thank the Eurofleets project for making this research cruise possible, and the captain and crew of the R/V Urania, who were so professional, efficient and fun to work with.

And we would also like to thank you for following us from all over the world, and we hope that you can join us on our next adventure!